GLENDALE, United States: Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan threw the deciding touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham late in the fourth quarter on Sunday (Monday in Manila) as Team Irvin edged Team Carter 32-28 in the NFL Pro Bowl.
The 45th edition of the all-star event featured teams picked by Hall of Fame receivers Cris Carter and Michael Irvin.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford took most of the snaps for Team Irvin, throwing for 316 yards and two touchdowns, including one of two caught by Broncos receiver Emmanuel Sanders.
Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, the first overall pick in the skill-position portion of the draft, threw a pair of first-quarter touchdown passes for Team Carter, and the Saints’ Drew Brees also tossed two scores in a losing effort.
The game at University of Phoenix Stadium in the suburb of Glendale, Arizona was a curtain raiser to next Sunday’s Super Bowl 49 between reigning NFL champions Seattle and New England.
The Seahawks stunned Green Bay 28-22 in overtime to win the National Football Conference title game and punch their ticket to a second straight Super Bowl.
The Seahawks arrived in Phoenix on Sunday, and fans were already out in force near their hotel, cheering the team buses as they arrived.
Seahawks settling in
Quarterback Russell Wilson said the Seahawks were settling in quickly to the sometimes frenetic Super Bowl week routine.
“What it really comes down to is playing great football come game day, and that’s the goal,” Wilson said.
The Patriots advanced to the Super Bowl with a 45-7 win over Indianapolis, but the romp has been overshadowed by “Deflategate,” with the NFL probing accusations that under-inflated balls used by New England in the first half of the game were the result of deliberate cheating.
The Patriots were due to arrive in Phoenix on Monday, and if they can’t leave the Deflategate controversy behind, they can at least look forward to dodging the vicious winter storm barrelling down on the northeastern United States.
“It’ll be nice to be in some 70 degree weather [21 Celsius],” wide receiver Julian Edelman said from the Patriots’ training base. “We’ll go out there and try to win the last game.”
Since the NFL opted to switch the Pro Bowl to the week before the Super Bowl, players from the championship contenders haven’t taken part.
In their absence—and the absence of other selected players who opted out, such as Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Broncos signal-caller Peyton Manning—some rule changes spiced up the contest.
That included narrowing of the goal posts from 18 feet (5.5 meters) to 14 feet across, and Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri missed two extra point attempts and a field goal effort for the winners.
Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett opted to keep the Team Irvin offense on the field on fourth-and-goal with his team trailing 28-25 with 3:14 remaining.
Graham made the decision pay off by hauling in Ryan’s quick slant pass.
Odell Beckham, fresh off a season with the Giants that could earn him offensive rookie of the year honors, made two impressive catches in the first half.
That included pulling a 48-yard toss from Stafford on which Beckham powered down the right side of the field, faked outside, and then moved up the middle to beat defensive back Antoine Bethea.
“Stafford put it out there for me,” Beckham said. “I just had to make the play.”